Nurses to Chiwenga: We will return to work once our demands are met

A showdown is looming between the newly appointed Minister of Health and Child Care Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and striking nurses, who have vowed to continue with their industrial action until their demands are met.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed VP Chiwenga and Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza as a substantive minister and permanent secretary for the health ministry, respectively.

Chiwenga’s appointment according to the presidents comes at a time when there is “urgent need to stabilise, restructure and reform the National Health Delivery System to better cope with challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and in the process, ensuring a quick turn around in national health care.”

The health care system has been affected by the ongoing nurses’ strike who are demanding salaries pegged in United States dollars, better working conditions and adequate protective clothing.

Over 200 nurses have contracted Covid-19 in the country.

In a statement issued Wednesday, ZINA said to resolve the impasse between health workers and the government, their constitutional and labour rights must be upheld.

“Today marks the 48th day since we withdrew our labour. As ZINA we welcome the appointees of to the positions of substantive Minister of Health and Child Care as well as permanent secretary for the same ministry. It is our hope that the two appointees have been briefed on the situation prevailing in the health industry and what has led to the impasse between health workers and their employer,” the statement read.

“Our reasonable demands are in the public domain. We look forward to being engaged on the basis of mutual respect where our constitutional and labour rights to a fair wage and to work in unsafe conditions are respected.”

The nurses reiterated that as long as their demands are not met they will not be going back to work.

“Further we look forward to having our demands acknowledged and met. As we have indicated before, we are unable to return to work until this has been done. Considering the urgency of the situation, we expect an urgent intervention to resolve the impasse. Until this has been done, we reiterate our position, NO USD, NO WORK! NO PPE, NO WORK!” read the statement.

In 2018, VP Chiwenga fired all striking nurses after they had made demands that their night duty allowances be hiked from 0,76 cents per hour to $70.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)